Japanese summers are hard to bear. With high humidity levels, the energy-sapping heat has such an overwhelming effect on the body there’s even a word for summer lethargy in the Japanese lexicon: natsubate.
Luckily for us, Japan has developed a number of unique ways to fight the summer heat. One of the best ways to cool down is in the sensory pleasure of traditional Japanese sweets featuring watery wonderlands, night skies and gorgeous hues of blue. We’ve found 15 of the best summer sweets that are so amazing they’re more like edible works of art.
This sweet resembles a traditional hand-woven handball called a temari, which children play with in summer. Natsu temari means summer handball.
Made from Kanten, or agar-agar, a healthy vegetable gelatin, this sweet is full of lemon and honey flavors. The kanten texture is as delicate as lace.
Fish are a popular summer motif and this one has got to be one of the most adorable we’ve seen! Available from the famous, centuries-old sweet shop Toraya, you can change the scenery of the sweet by using different colored serving plates, thanks to the crystal clear kanten jelly.
Mini Aquarium Jellies
These homemade jellies by Miki Nagata have a hint of blue added to the kanten mixture.
Koi Carp Jelly
Now you can gaze into a koi carp pond and devour it at the same time! This homemade creation includes agar, sweet red peas, sweet dainagon beans, black sesame seeds, matcha powder and white bean paste.
Available from the traditional sweet shop Kourakuya, the attention to detail includes fish bodies gently poking through the surface of the water.
Night skies are another popular motif to help keep cool in summer. Red bean paste and layers of blue-green hues mixed with gold flakes create a starry skyscape to transport you to the cold regions of space.
This sweet captures the stars and moon and encloses them in a glistening casing.
There are also a number of sweets that replicate water. This one uses aquamarine hues to create a running stream frozen in time.
Another one from Toraya, this sweet serves up the crest of a wave.
These candies are created to look just like shards of frozen ice.
This is the amazing water cake from Yamanashi Prefecture that’s such a delicate casing of pure water it disappears within 30 minutes of being served.
Present from the Seashore
This sweet is presented in closed clam shells which reveal an amber jelly when opened. In the middle there’s a salty nib of dried natto, a fermented soy bean.
Literally meaning evening festival, this yoimatsuri sweet captures the lanterns, an early evening sky and all the frivolity of a Japanese summer festival.
Kumo no Mine
From Toraya, this one translates to Peak of a Cloud and is such a perfect representation of a summer cloud it’s almost like a photograph.
Next time you’re feeling hot this summer, you might want to look into a Japanese confectionery purchase.
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15 beautiful Japanese sweets to cool you down this summer